Tuesday, 5 April 2011

Bombay Bicycle Club - I Had The Blues But I Shook Them Loose

Having been a mass advocator of these guys since they appeared a few years back, in my peripherals possibly around the time that I was leaving University. I definitely remember seeing them at Glastonbury in 2009, and being blown away by them, as I sheltered from the white hot sun in a hollowed out and halved wooden track casing. Leaning against the cushions with the customary pint of cold, cold cider, I was taking it all in. even my techno-head buddy was all about them within two tracks. But listening to their album ‘I had the Blues but I shook them loose’ was another story. I bought it, but did I listen? Hell no. Irregular downloads and pre-polished beauties kept me going when I got my Bombay phases and needed a fix.

It’s the divide between an established artists cut-glass chimes and vocals and the old grit that gets me. Why would you want to lose that. The same way vinyl has way more character; there is no beating the flaws that are held within an early rendition. But alas, I broke at last and put the album in the CD drawer and explored the entrails. In a stunned tale of difference, it is mature. Perhaps this is what held me back all that time ago? Their innocence and subtle anger, heard in the voice and lyrics throughout even the quietest moments, has morphed into calm austerity that lurks above the feelings reigned in, an atmosphere of armor. Spanning the tracks, more intense feeling spreads across like spilled ink. So when I listen to ‘Magnet’, the lyrics have been hacked and divided between this and ‘Cancel on me’, severing the distraught distaste and a complex love affair, and rooting it in a more sober approach.

His distinct vocals still itch with that unbridled passion, stretching into forlorn disinterest, despair and then back into positive calm, an understanding of fact and fiction. Moments of energy and anger are met with an affected shaking in his voice. Shuddering on the brink of a relapse into the old ways of the Club. It is interesting, like watching someone breakdown, whilst trying to hold it together. This willful edge is met with clashes of snarling snare and pulsing drums in ‘Cancel on me’ as the end is in sight. It highlights that even under this presence of mind there is tumult. Breaks and beats in moments of ‘Autumn’ with pure mixes of indie from the true heyday, latterly forgotten in the haze of noughties ‘Indie’ efforts.

Golden oldie ‘What If’ in its re-dubbed state trips off skillfully spangled riffs and gently hissing high-hats, gliding through the air and meeting head on moments of crescendo where the lament becomes all too much. ‘Giantess’ in its more acoustic state still harnesses the drum machine in a break that is satisfying in the combination of old and new. Soporific and lilting, it differs almost entirely from every other track, but as a foray is beautifully engineered to wind you down after a hard and mostly fast jaunt into this little world. Difficult to pigeonhole as Bombay Bicycle Club are, the feeling of being in a warm bath when you hear them is difficult to escape. It is the one thing you can truly say about them, and its not a genre bound description. They hold you with their odd angled views and intone safety. It feels like purity, though how that is conveyed I don’t know, like magic, or charisma. Some people just have it I guess.